These small but sporting dachshunds will find a place in every working household and in the field. We champion the teckel
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Teckels: the wire-haired dachshund is a sporting sausage dog
Teckels are small dogs with a big personality. Their mischievous and charming nature makes them one of the best country house dogs. And they can compete for prowess when ratting with terriers. They make reliable stalking dogs too.
If you fancy the idea of a full-on sporting dog for everything from stalking to ratting but would prefer not to fight for space on the sofa or spend a fortune on food, a teckel could be just the ticket. A teckel? What the heck’s that, you may be wondering. Actually, it’s a hunting powerhouse that comes in a pint-sized package.
Strictly speaking, a teckel is any dachshund but in Britain it usually means the working wirehaired variety. “In their native Germany, all dachshunds are called teckels, and dogs of all coat-type and size are used for hunting – flushing and retrieving game, tracking wounded animals and for finding, bolting and despatching vermin,” says Bernd Kügow of Waldmeister Dachshunds. Say “dachshund” and what springs to mind is probably a comical sausage dog capable of nothing more athletic than lifting its leg but Bernd, who lives in the north west, believes this is because in Britain a show type prevails that is almost unrecognisable from the original breed. “In Europe there’s no real division between animals for working and showing, they’re all purpose,” he says. “A wire coat is what we’re striving for but smooth and longhaired dogs can also work; they tend to be used more for trailing,” he says. “Working dachshunds are less hefty and higher on the leg, so even a long coat doesn’t dangle on the ground. They also lack the massive front often seen with show dogs. Teckels need to have good mobility. None of my dogs waddles,” he insists. “They clamber over 4ft walls like monkeys.”
TECKELS ARE ADRENALIN JUNKIES
“Teckels are wonderful trackers and never give up. I believe they have a higher adrenalin level than most other dogs: they appear to have a higher pain threshold and unbelievable stamina. The tank never seems to run dry,” claims Bernd.
In Germany, these game dogs are split into three sizes according to the holes they are expected to go down, kaninchen (rabbit) the smallest, zwerg (fox) and normal (badger). “In Britain teckels are registered with The Kennel Club as dachshunds and are divided by coat type and into two sizes, miniature and standard,” he explains.
Tom Marshall, a deerkeeper, uses his miniature bitch, Freya, to follow up wounded game but says she’s an all-round asset. “We do some dogging-in and she never misses a thing. She’s better than most of the spaniels when it comes to finding birds. I think it’s because teckels are that bit slower and calmer. Also, it must help having a nose so close to the ground,” he says. “They are little dogs with huge hearts but with more brain than a terrier,” says Tom. “Teckels are boxers rather than brawlers and although they’ll stand their ground, and in Europe will hold something as big as a boar or bear, they’ll never go looking for a fight. They have a big bark for a little dog, so make brilliant guard dogs. ”
SMALL DOG, BIG PERSONALITY
David Logan used to train spaniels but was led into teckels through stalking – and a client who had wirehaired dachshunds. “They are super sporting dogs. In Germany they are required to carry out tests covering a variety of skills, from following a 40-hour-old blood trail to retrieving a duck from water,” he says. “Although they might appear unlikely sporting dogs because of their size, physically they are a proper little package. They have a protective coat that keeps them warm and dries quickly, floppy ears like a spaniel to protect the eyes and a nose virtually at ground level.”
One of David’s dogs, Otto, regularly went beating: “A particularly proud moment was when he picked-up a duck and brought it back to me under the keeper’s eye. And that’s nothing compared to a smooth-haired miniature I used to see that would drag birds bigger than itself back to its owner.” David acquired Birke, an imported bitch, at the same time as Otto. “She had highly tuned instincts and a great brain. She’d dig moles out of the garden for fun; following the run and then laying in wait,” he says. “Birke would take herself off on hunting trips, however, and once came back skin and bone after two weeks. Another time, Otto found her and I dug her out of a hole 4ft down.”
For Lucy Meager, dashing dachshunds are a family tradition. “My grandmother had them, as does my mother, who always takes hers beating and expects them to cover as much ground as a spaniel,” she says. “One of our own dogs, a smooth-haired called Zinzi, loved to come shooting and was good at putting up the ‘right’ sort of birds.
“With a dachshund you’re getting a big personality that will go beating, rough-shooting or stand on the peg but in a very small and easily transported body. If a naughty springer runs in, it might ruin that drive and the next two whereas a teckel is so much smaller and slower it can’t do half as much damage,” she chuckles.
Given their stature, not to mention hugely expressive faces, teckels don’t usually stay in the doghouse for long. This could also be because most working dogs double as pets and live indoors. Amy Cope, whose husband Olly is a keeper on a Cotswold estate, acquired her teckel, Porridge, two years ago. “She is a mad keen hunter and when she’s not out with Olly she’ll be hunting wagtails in the paddock but as soon as she walks through the door she is 100% pet,” says Amy. “She’s the first dog we’ve had living inside and there’s no doubt she’s aware of this status: Porridge’s favourite pew is on top of the sofa in the bay window, in view of the other dogs outside in the kennels.”
Despite initial reservations, Olly is a total teckel convert: “Porridge is hilarious. She’ll howl along to opera music and is always making everyone laugh but the minute she’s out with the clients stalking she’s like a different dog. Her nose is unreal. I’ve never known a dog operate like her. Then, once we’re finished, it’s back home for a power shower in the kitchen sink.”
Olly believes teckels have another advantage: women can’t resist them. “They are very appealing. My brother-in-law has pictures of Porridge on his Facebook page and there are no end of comments from girls saying how cute she is and how much they’d like to meet her,” he reveals.
Dermot Hanniffy admits that in the past his part-bred teckel has been an ice-breaker. “Róisín is very affectionate and usually does the introductions. I’m in a happy relationship these days but without doubt she was a hit with the girls, although I usually glossed over Róisín’s love of ratting.” Her other sporting interests include shooting, hunting with hounds and polo. “Róisín has always been a great companion, and happily goes up and down the boards, without entering the field,” says Dermot. “Once I head out to play she jumps into the lorry and doesn’t come out until the end of the last chukka. She seems to know the timing.”
While this nous is one of the teckel’s great qualities, it can also pose a challenge. Being hounds, they are incredibly loyal but work tends to be on their own terms, as Lucy Meager knows well. “They are such keen and thorough little dogs but if the undergrowth gets very thick or they find something more interesting, such as a fresh set, that’s it. A gundog likes to please its owner, dachshunds please themselves. Nor have we found them particularly easy to house-train,” she admits. “It’s not that they don’t understand and can’t do it, it’s more, ‘Why should I go outside when it’s raining and risk getting my tummy cold and wet?’”
Bernd Kügow confirms that unsavoury personal habits can be a teckel trait. “Mine do protest wees. Because I’ve so many dogs I walk them in two groups,” he explains. “The ones left behind look at me with such determined faces that say, ‘I’m coming. Don’t you dare leave me behind.’ And, indeed, often I’ll return to find one has left an expression of its frustration on the floor. This brain makes them such brilliant dogs, although they can be a handful if not properly occupied. They couldn’t do all the things we ask of them without such determined characters. They are up for anything and eminently trainable, so long as you’re as persistent as they are. Constant reaffirmation and praise works well – they sulk if you’re too harsh,” he says.
GIVE THAT DOG AN OSCAR
Sporting agent Howard Day knows all too well how much a teckel likes life on its own terms. “Oscar was bought as a pet and a stalking dog. He is a very sporting dog but it definitely revolves around his own entertainment. You can train a lab to work, with a teckel you have to persuade it.” According to Howard, the key is making the teckel think it is getting its own way. “Try to give Oscar wormers and it ends in a wrestling match. However, if you pretend you want to eat them, he’ll gobble them up. Similarly, when we go to the vets we take the lab, too. On arrival we get Oscar out but leave the lab – Oscar will then do anything because he feels he’s getting one over on the lab.” Oscar loves women, children and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. “He can demolish a dozen in less than three minutes. We once left a box on the table. When we returned Oscar was stood in the box finishing off the last one. He didn’t even look ashamed,” says Howard. In their native home, teckels are enjoying a surge in popularity. “I’m sure a lot of it is to do with their size,” says Bernd Kügow . “All over Europe space is in short supply; a teckel doesn’t need as much room to work and live as a big dog but gives you every bit as much fun.” No doubt this small dog will soon have a large following in this country, too. Doughnut fans take note.
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